Mastering Modern: Making Money on Modern in 2017 (Pt 4)

Welcome to the final installment in my  four-part part series on making money on Modern cards in 2017. You can find the first part, covering the cards most likely to rebound from Modern Masters 2017, over here, the second part here, and the third part here.

First off, let’s check in on the prices of the rares and mythics from Modern Masters 2017 to see how those potential specs are progressing.


MM17 mythics have been sliding modestly in the last couple of weeks.

Here we find ourselves just about on top of the Amonkhet pre-release weekend, and facing down additional MM17 supply that many vendors just received in a second wave. I suspect that much of that supply will be sold off as packs in the shops to maximize profits at this point, since the singles supply online is looking too deep to be very tempting. As a result, we’re looking at further price slides almost across the board on both MM17 mythics and rares.

Pretty much all of the relevant mythics have lost ground over the last couple of weeks, including Tarmogoyf, LOTV, Snapcaster Mage, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Craterhoof Behemoth, Voice of Resurgence and Griselbrand, with an average decline of -7%. Cavern of Souls is the only important mythic to be holding steady in the $35-40 range.  Overall, the MM17 mythics are down -52% since December 2016, -19% since release and -7%.

So now that we’re this close to Amonkhet, let’s see how my predicted entry points lined up with reality. Here are my March 8th predictions on how low the key mythics would get vs. where they landed:

  • Tarmogoyf (Target: $60 vs. Low: $78)
  • Liliana of the Veil (Target: $50 vs. Low: $70)
  • Cavern of Souls (Target: $25 vs. Low: $35)
  • Snapcaster Mage (Target: $25 vs. Low $35)
  • Voice of Resurgence (Target: $8 vs. Low: $10)

As you can see, from my earlier list only Voice of Resurgence has really fallen far enough to prove my predictions true. The rest of the high demand mythics have been bleeding value lately, but are still showing enough strength to make these earlier targets look like a stretch. Only repeated supply is likely to get us close to these targets at this point, and with Iconic Masters having been announced officially today, a supply push for MM17 in the late fall now looks unlikely. That being the case, I think you can feel confidant buying in to the mythics you need anytime in the next month if you need them to play with.  As far as speculation goes, I’m not going to be prioritizing these cards until I see the card supply dry up and I hear word that distributors aren’t sending out cases by the pallet any more.

Now let’s take at where we’re at with the MM17 rares.

Rares have also been sliding.

Predictably, though the rares have also slid another -7% since early April, the group is down more than the mythics overall since both pre-order season (-26%) and last December (-66%). That 66% drop since last fall is especially egregious if you are a fully committed Modern play with a large collection and not much to gain from Modern Masters 2017 reprints.

Looking at specifics, even the previously stalwart Zendikar fetchlands have fallen off their recover pace in the last few weeks, with losses around -6-7% for Scalding Tarn, Arid Mesa and Misty Rainforest, with neutral movement on Verdant Catacombs and a bit of a bump (4%) on Marsh Flats.   There are over 120 listings on alone for all of these lands so supply is still piling up bit by bit for now. That being said, there really aren’t that many copies left of Scalding Tarn below $50 at present, so there may not be much point in holding out for sub $40 pricing in the absence of a major supply side event.

Here’s an overview of the targets I set for some of the rares in March vs. where we ended up:

  • Scalding Tarn (Target: $25 vs. Low: $40)
  • Verdant Catacombs (Target: $25 vs. Low: $40)
  • Misty Rainforest (Target: $20 vs. Low: $30)
  • Arid Mesa (Target: $20 vs. Low $25)
  • Marsh Flats (Target: $20 vs. Low: $25)

As with the best of the mythics, my targets were too optimistic for these high demand cards given how supply has played out so far. At this point I would be comfortable acquiring for personal use and Scalding Tarn, Verdant Catacombs and Misty Rainforest may yield reasonable gains over a horizon of 6-18 months pending any further supply side shocks. As I stated with the mythics, keep an eye on the total supply to decide whether to prioritize going deep. Poking around on Twitter, Facebook and various finance message boards may yield another 10-15% savings on your targets, so make sure to dig for your dollars.

Down 72% since Dec/16!

What about the rest of the rares? Here’s where my other price predictions ended up:

  • Damnation (Target: $20 vs. Low: $17)
  • Blood Moon (Target: $15 vs. Low: $16)
  • Goblin Guide (Target: $12.50 vs. Low: $15)
  • Arid Mesa (Target: $20 vs. Low $25)
  • Marsh Flats (Target: $20 vs. Low: $25)

We did better overall with the rest of the rare predictions. People told me I was nuts for calling the previously $60 Damnation to fall under $25, but here we are with it at $17. The reality is that this card’s demand was more urban myth than it was fact, and supply is currently still piling up. I want a couple of these for casual decks and cube, but I’m in no rush until I see a deal at $15/copy.

Likewise, Blood Moon has fallen hard from $45 and doesn’t seem likely to recover any time soon given the number of listings out there. This card is on my list of “cards they might get rid of at some point in Modern” so I can’t see myself being inclined to go deep on it no matter how low it goes. Goblin Guide has been bleeding out steadily since December, and may well get to my target. Either way, you’re already set up for a $100 discount per play set, so no definite reason to be shy if you need them now.

Death's Shadow

I didn’t comment on the likely price of Death’s Shadow up front, but so long as that deck doesn’t get banned out of Tier 1 status, picking these up at current prices ($7/$15 foil) seems like the most obvious place to start speculating on the reprints, though inventory isn’t low enough, even on this obvious staple, to make it a priority target.

The Up & Comers

Last week we took our second look at the cards that dodged a reprint in Modern Masters 2017. This week we’ll move on to looking at some of the cards that have just recently been printed or been making fresh waves in the format to figure out if there is any meat left on that bone.

Collective Brutality

Collective Brutality

Collective Brutality was largely underestimated when it debuted in Eldritch Moon in the summer of 2016. Even before Fatal Push set a new standard for black removal in Modern and Legacy, Collective Brutality was assumed to be too slow as a two-mana sorcery to see serious play. The mistake made by the detractors however, was almost certainly the flexibility provided by this powerful card. Depending on your immediate needs, Collective Brutality can get rid of a key combo piece, removal spell or sweeper, kill a creature, or help win a race with a significant life swing. The ability to use multiple modes via discard, both turns on madness and serves up a bonus to decks that want various card types in the graveyard anyway. The most recent Jund Death’s Shadow builds are a great example of a prominent deck that puts the card to good use, as do Dredge, Abzan and Grixis Death’s Shadow. Each of these decks tends to run a max of one copy in the main, with another 1-3 copies in the sideboard. In Legacy, B/R Reanimator runs 2-3 copies in the sideboard, and 4C Loam sometimes runs it as well.

Last August you could have had your fill of this emerging staple at $2, but now it’s hovering between $9-10. Most of the play isn’t in Standard, so this card could hold it’s elevated price tag (relative to other Standard rares) despite rotating in the fall.

I was in on foils early at $6 or so, and recently sold out closer to $20 based on my “greed limit” rules. It’s possible that foils near $20 are still a buy however as total inventory is very limited and the card could easily hit $30+ this year if demand is persistent. Being from a small summer set lessens overall inventory here, so performing better than say, Collected Company foils, might be reasonable.

Current Price: $10 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $15 ($30 foil)

The Mid-Range Eldrazi

Thought-Knot SeerReality Smasher

Thought-Knot Seer & Reality Smasher already occupy dual positions in the Top 10 creatures in the format by play volume and they are almost always played as 4-ofs. These two bad boys never see any play on any team but Team Eldrazi, but given that there are several possible flavors of Eldrazi in Modern, and that these cards see play all the way back to Vintage, we should at least feel them out. Another point in their favor is that Oath of the Gatewatch was a winter set rather than a fall set, meaning that there is significantly less of these around than say Smuggler’s Copter.

During Eldrazi Winter (Feb/March 2016), when Eldrazi decks were temporarily ruining Modern, TKS got up over $15, but has since fallen back into the $5-7 range. Given that Thought-Knot Seer currently boasts about the same number of total listings online as Death’s Shadow, despite coming from a set with wider distribution, it would seem like a relatively safe value store for next couple of years.

Reality Smasher only got up to $10 or so last year, and is currently available closer to $3, so it may represent the better deal here since both cards see roughly equivalent play. Matter Reshaper is also a constant presence in the Eldrazi lists, and at $2 it’s fairly attractive. Endbringer is a typical three-of in the Eldrazi Tron lists, and it’s just $.50, partially due to the presence of widely distributed promo card and partially because this card wasn’t caught up in the original hype last year.

Thought-Knot Seer
Current Price: $6 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $15 ($30 foil)

Reality Smasher
Current Price: $3.50 ($12 foil)
Target Price (2018): $6 ($20 foil)

Walking Ballista

Walking Ballista

Mostly through play in Eldrazi Tron as a four-of, this multi-format all-star from Aether Revolt was underestimated early, but quickly turned heads in multiple formats.  Paper copies spiked closer to $15 near the Pro Tour, but have since fallen closer to $10 as Standard interest has waned this winter. As a powerful colorless creature with a flexible casting cost, a built in mana sink and a number of interesting artifact and +1/+1 counter synergies, I definitely have interest in investing in the card long term, but I’d like to see what happens with the upcoming Standard list before I consider a move. Ideally, I think I want to look at the non-foils under $5, which likely means waiting until the 2019 fall rotation, but foils are already nearly dry under $20, and could easily hit $30, so I’d likely start with those now. I recently bought a few Russian pack foils for less than $50, and I expect those will be a really nice feature in my portfolio in a couple of years.

Current Price: $10 ($20 foil)
Target Price (2018): $5 ($30 foil)

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Early in the summer of 2016, when Shadows Over Innistrad was nearing peak supply, you had a shot at Traverse the Ulvenwald close to $2. Fast forward a year and the card has posted up in the paint as part of the best brew in the format, Jund Death’s Shadow, where it is played constantly as a four-of in a deck that has no trouble at all hitting Delirium and turning this into a virtual Demonic Tutor. Consequently you’ll need to cough up $7 or so to get your hands on some, and I think you can safely pass on that if you missed out on the lower price tag.

The foils are another matter entirely, as there are very few available, and the different between the sub-$10 copies around and the $20 asking price on the 30th or 40th copies will not be a tough bridge to cross assuming that Death’s Shadow stays near the top of the metagame. The foil multiplier is also inexplicably low, especially for a set with no Masterpieces to hold back it’s price recovery down the road. Furthermore, even the death of Death’s Shadow aggro might not be enough to hold this card down long term, since the power level and casting cost are in the sweet spot that tends to get used in multiple shells over a long enough time horizon. I’ve been a pretty active buyer of foils near $10 over the last few months and I’m not done yet. In terms of solid specs, this is about as good as they come.

Current Price: $7 ($10 foil)
Target Price (2018): $4 ($20 foil)

Fatal Push

Fatal Push

There’s little doubt that this card represents the most important new kill spell in any format in recent memory. The problem, from a financial perspective at least, is that everyone was fully aware from the start and the card is an uncommon. Despite that lowly rarity, foils are hovering in the $30-35 range and the inventory is not particularly deep even at that price.  Aether Revolt will still be opened to some degree for the rest of the year, but we are almost certainly facing peak supply already or pretty close to it. Could this be a future $50 foil uncommon?  I think it might get there, but I don’t like the buy in prices as they stand so I think I’ll pass on this one in favor of more likely success.

Current Price: $6 ($30 foil)
Target Price (2018): $6 ($40 foil)

Join me next week when we dig deep into the Amonkhet opportunities in a new Digging for Dollars!

CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

2 thoughts on “Mastering Modern: Making Money on Modern in 2017 (Pt 4)”

  1. Interesting. I didnt really feel like tks would fall and be forgotten. didnt think it would rise.

  2. where do you get some of your pricing?!?!? Traverse can be had for under $4 non-foil on TCG…The spotlight is Card Rush – $3.99 with shipping, 34 copies available!!!

    That said, I do like most of your picks. I don’t like the Eldrazi other than TKS and Smasher as the others seem replaceable in the future for some other/new card. I still remember when some pro proclaimed that “Vile Aggregate is better than Tarmogoyf” during the pro tour and foils were easily $15+. Eldrazi Mimic might be the most aggressively impactful card and Reshaper the best value card. Endbringer, despite doing exactly what it says, doesn’t seem like a good target mostly due to the promo. So I am mostly in agreement.

    I am very worried about Fatal Push foils…Wizards is printing FNM Aether Hub foils. I won’t be shocked to see Fatal Push promos or foils of some sort. It might be too soon to be a masterpiece/invocation but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least for that in the next set or an FNM promo. Fatal Push seems like a very smart printing by Wizards, but I actually think I might trade/sell my copies if I don’t immediately play them in my Legacy and Modern decks as it seems like too good of a card to not reprint to help sell supplemental products like dual decks or Planeswalker decks in the future.

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